In thinking about the pros and cons of homeschooling my list became quite large. When considering something, in my mind I start with a positive “That would be great but…” then I quickly go to the negatives so I know what I’m working with. Finally I end with the positives, so that is what I will do here. Because the pros outnumber the cons, this will be a two-part post. First up a pro then the cons.
Homeschooling is great because you can tailor what your child learns to his interests or at least give him time to explore his interests. Which is always a good thing. It keeps the mind fresh and eager to learn. When you are interested in something you are more likely to push through the difficult portions so that you can understand it better. The same goes for your child. Self-motivation, Self-led learning, makes your quest much easier. For example, Roly can tell you what type of train we just passed and what other train it is similar to. Sleepy can tell me about programming and breadboards. All self-taught through books! It’s all about interest and self-motivation. If your child can’t read yet, you can read to him to help him learn that way until he is ready. If he does not understand a math concept you can pause for a few days or a month and come back to it. Your child is ready to learn certain topics on their own time table, not a predetermined bureaucratic time table. You know your child best and you will know whether they really don’t understand or if they are just stalling. Trust your instincts and adjust accordingly. Your child will thank you for it later.
Now for the cons.
Your Home is Rarely Your Standard of Clean
Before I started homeschooling I had one child in school, a toddler at home and one on the way. Even in my pregnancy I kept my home relatively spotless. I would vacuum two to three times a day! I scrubbed the bathrooms, washed the dishes by hand, swept and mopped the floors at least twice a day, organized, made all the beds and cleaned the rooms, all before I picked up Sleepy from school. At our very first homeschool conference a group of us were warned by Melanie Young of Raising Real Men that my home would never be my standard of clean again. I thought to myself, “Yeah, I hear you, but that won’t be me!” Boy was I wrong! Today, I desire for my home to be mommy clean, but with four children at home All of the time it just doesn’t happen. So take my advice. Clean enough is clean enough. Don’t stress yourself out over the little things. Pick one to three things that need to be deep cleaned each day and let the kids do the rest. It will be clean enough until you get to it again.
Increased Utility Bills
Being at home all of the time does a number to your utility bills. Yes it may cut your auto insurance down since you’re not driving everyday (unless you want to), but your electric, gas, and water bills will definitely go up. So much so, that you will seriously consider upgrading to the newest energy efficient ceiling fan. Yes I said ceiling fan, because every little bit counts! Along with the major appliances and bathroom fixtures (toilet, shower head, faucet) that suck every little dollar out of your pockets, the heating situation just has you seeing money flying out of every wall and window. Yes your electric, gas, and water companies will just Love that you are homeschooling, but you will secretly hatch plans to keep them out of your family’s bank account. In our efforts to keep the bills down we have kept the heat down to 76 degrees in the super cold upper Midwest winters. Those arctic blasts we endured with many blankets wrapped around our entire bodies and in the summer we found ways to endure the heat and humidity. We turned on only the lights that were necessary and I am seriously considering the rule “If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down.”.
Now I know what you’re thinking. We’re homeschooling to get away from the peer pressure not add to it! But hear me out. The peer pressures that homeschoolers experience are the adult on adult kind. There are many who believe that their method of homeschooling is the only way or that homeschooling is quite frankly the most stupid thing you can do to your children. They may try to bully you through your children by quizzing them in front of you (or even in secret if it is a family member). They may even bully you to your face or make snide remarks or facial expressions when the topic comes up. For this, you have to develop a really thick skin. It takes some time, and increased confidence in knowing that what you are doing right now is the best for your child, before it develops. It may seem like it will never come when you are doubting yourself and crying yourself to sleep because of all of the negative adults around you, but it will come like a thief in the night to give you strength and let those comments role off of your back.
Parent to Child Pressure
Sometimes that negative adult peer pressure will give you a drive to show all of those negative people wrong, and at other times in your life that would be a good thing. But in this case it can be a very bad thing! That ego-centric drive will create a tiger momma or dad and will result in your child being resentful, feeling dumb, hating learning, and regressing. This may even give your child a reason to hate you and not want to be around you. So when you start to feel like you are pushing too much or you see a grimace on his face or tears welling in his eyes. Stop, take a deep breath, maybe even a time out, and apologize to him. Close the book and say “We are done with this for today.” This simple act alone can help bridge the gap you have created between yourself and your child.
Increased School Expenses
As if paying taxes for a school system you don’t benefit from isn’t enough, now you must set aside enough money to purchase more items than normal in order to help your child learn as effectively as possible. For example, the books you need may not be at any of your local libraries or you don’t have the specific items you need for your science experiment and now you drive all over to get the best deal on each of the items wasting gas, time, and money. You also may need to pay for the standardized testing or pay an assessor to look over the work your child has done so that you can be approved to homeschool again for the next year. Although you can definitely start on a free budget it becomes a little harder to stay on that free budget as your children get older. Oh and adult peer pressure can increase your spending as well, although not intentionally. Becoming addicted to curriculum is a real thing. So here’s what I do.
- First and foremost, I set a budget. For you, it may be $50 this month or $1,000/year. Whatever it is set it and don’t go over unless you have gained some extra money.
- Next I figure out if this particular “need” fits with my teaching style and my children’s learning style, if it doesn’t fit even one, I don’t buy it.
- Can we do without it? Maybe we can find the book at the library or use their atlas. Maybe we can use something we already have and improvise or print it out.
Lack of Access to Extracurricular Activities
The amounts of activities available to and advertised in the public school are enough to make any homeschool parent lament. When Sleepy was in school there was always a paper being sent home about a new club or a basketball, baseball, or football league. We were always in the know about the different activities available. But once we started homeschooling we quickly found out that we would have to do a bit of digging to find activities that were open to homeschoolers. Despite what you may hear, homeschool parents are pretty diligent about finding activities that would provide a helpful skill (like boy scouts or trail life) and others that will promote physical wellness, such as soccer, gymnastics, or biking. Right now Sleepy is really into robotics, but the teams around us are only for the children attending that particular school. No homeschoolers allowed! So now we along with other families are working to hopefully starting our own homeschool team(s). Along with the increased cost, finding these activities takes a lot of time and sometimes a bit of extra traveling and if we can afford it then we make it work. If not, we still make it work by providing opportunities to get active as a family. This in fact promotes the family bonding that we seek.
Despite what the many anti-homeschool posts say about homeschooling parents being lazy it is quite the contrary. Homeschool parents work very hard to ensure that their children have an excellent education. Actually, I feel like I work harder now than I ever have! Here is a list of the things homeschool parents to on an almost daily basis:
- We are always reading and training. Teaching books, theory books, prospective books for our children, research, we do it all.
- If we have multiple children we deal with many different temperaments, learning abilities and disabilities, and developmental stages. All hopefully with some level of mercy, patience, and grace.
- We plan our curriculum paying special attention to our children’s likes and dislikes, what works and what doesn’t.
- We look at each of our children, praying that GOD would reveal to us in due time their natural gifts and abilities so that we can steer them in the right direction.
- We spend a lot of time in preparation so that our children can spend the least time formally schooling and the most time exploring their interests and being active.
- We are chauffer to museums, libraries, extracurriculars, work and, apprenticeships, etc.
Nothing short of what a teacher does for their students. Yet we add in feeding our children All Day (because they never seem to stop eating) and making sure they are safe and our home is decently clean. In order to get all of this done effectively we learn to become efficient time-managers. Not that you will always be perfect at managing your time but it does get easier.
So when your children are in traditional school you get a much needed break from all of the bickering and noise. You can clean your house and calm your soul because of your clean house. You can go shopping and talk to adults about adult things. You can even have a few moments of quiet if you want. But for homeschool parents, especially the one doing the homeschooling this is not the case. With peer disapproval comes the constant threat of someone you know or even vaguely know calling CPS on you just because they don’t like that you are homeschooling. Your children are with you 24/7! There are times when you can’t seem to go to the bathroom by yourself without hearing “Mom!” Even the dog sits right under your feet. You are around little people with little questions (actually Big thought-provoking questions) and a lot of noise all of the time. Between stopping arguments over who left the book in the floor and finding the forever lost pencil so that school work can be completed it can seem like a losing battle. Phew! I’m getting tired just thinking about it. But there is a way around this, at least sort of. Having a group of other homeschool moms to meet up with for coffee or a dinner where you can stay out and talk about topics that interest you all. Even getting together for a picnic to let all of the kids play while you are talking would be beneficial as well, if there is no way you could go out to eat. Just don’t isolate yourself, because you are not in this alone.
So that’s it for the cons! It seems like a lot to take on but I assure you that you won’t want to miss the many Pros of homeschooling left on my list. I’m actually really excited to post those! So check back on Tuesday to read the next post and if you think of any pros or cons to homeschooling please feel free to chime in the comments box.